A client recently came to ENM Law looking for assistance with a summary Retail Theft charge that had been filed against her. The circumstances surrounding the charge were a little bit unusual: she had been charged by private criminal complaint approximately 7 months after the offense was allegedly committed and the client had already paid restitution to the store as a result of a demand letter from the store threatening to sue her civilly for damages.
Most people are probably unaware that criminal charges can be filed by private complaint without the involvement of police. In the case of a summary offense, a private citizen may file a complaint in front of a magisterial district judge and a hearing will be scheduled. The police and District Attorney’s office are not involved in the prosecution of summary offenses filed by private complaint.
You may also be unaware that stores are able to utilize a provision which allows them to bring a civil suit for restitution in the case of retail theft. While restitution can be ordered through a criminal case, in a civil action, the store can also be paid a civil penalty in the amount of $150 in addition to the value of the items taken.
Our client was very concerned about the possibility of a conviction for Retail Theft because it can be so detrimental during an employment search. Attorney McAllister successfully argued to the Berks County Magisterial District Judge that the private complaint should be dismissed because of its untimely filing and because the client had already paid $200 to the store as requested in the demand letter. As a result of Attorney McAllister’s representation, the summary Retail Theft charge was dismissed.
ENM Law is able to assist this client further by filing to expunge the summary Retail Theft charge from her record. This means that no potential employer will be able to see that the charge was ever filed. That will be a significant benefit to this client in the future.
If you’ve been charged with summary Retail Theft in Reading, PA or want to discuss the possibility of expunging a charge that did not result in a conviction, contact our experienced criminal law attorneys today at 610-372-5128 or [email protected]